Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AOC: The Art & Science of Making Choices

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups

In the opening of chapter of her book The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar clarifies and expounds on the idea of making choices. "When we speak of choice," she writes, "what we mean is the ability to exercise control over ourselves and our environment. In order to chose, we must first perceive that control is possible."

According to Iyengar, who has done quite a bit of research on how and why people make certain choices, the ability to and perception of choices are often culturally situated and at times it appears biologically influenced.

Iyengar really covers a lot of ground, providing a variety of examples as she sets up the overall topic of choosing. I was fascinated by her description of "how much choice animals technically had was far less important than how much choice they felt they had." The idea that perceptions of choices matter a great deal intrigued me.

But what about you--what's one concept raised in the first chapter that drew your interest? In brief, explain why that concept or example was notable or intriguing to you.


Nicholas M. said...

I also was fascinated by the description of "how much choice animals technically had was far less important than how much choice they felt they had."

I've never really looked a zoo in that perspective until lyengar talked about it. I could only imagine an animal (in a zoo) having no ability to make choices of their own.

I always thought of a zoo as being a safe place for an animal because they wouldn't have to worry about food, shelter, or safety from predators. As lyengar mentioned, although those are the perks of being an animal in a zoo, the proximity of animals to their predators, the limitation on their daily lives, and the uncertainty that food will come causes animals to feel "caught in a death trap."

Brenda W. said...

Iyengar put a whole new perspective on choice to me. It was fascinating how she could take one minuscule concept and stretch it out to new meanings.
It made perfect sense to me how feeling you have a choice is more important than having a choice. I agree with the above comment; the concept of it being more important how much choice animals felt they had than how much they really had intrigued me.
I have always felt animals were sort of trapped in places like zoos but I have never viewed it from such a thought out perspective like Iyengar did. It opens my eyes to new and more critical thought processes.

Jamila M. said...

Iyengar's opening chapter was all too fasinating to me. True, I've sat down and thought about the decisions I've made, and the consequence that followed but I never anaylized decision making the way she did. Before reading the chapter, I truly was ungrateful to the fact that I am able to make my own decisions. She shed light on choices from many different angles and situations that made her message more clear and understandable.

Sean Pettiford said...

The initial chapter of AOC is absolutely fantastic. Her example about Callahan and his choice to survive was quite interesting. One quote from his book, Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, was intriguing. He said, "I have overcome almost certain death. I now have a CHOICE: to pilot myself to a new life or to give up and watch myself die. I CHOOSE to kick as long as I can."

This art of choosing came in the midst of an extreme up hill battle but he still choose to live. He was in control of his destiny.

This really altered my view on how I make decisions.

Tiara Y. said...

I was personally enticed by the fact that she was able to quit smoking. I have love ones who smoke cigarettes and ive always watched them struggle trying to kick the habit , so I know how tough it could
be to refrain from smoking . I personally believe that you have to be strong willed to complete a task as such , and that just signifies strength.
Tiara Y.